Sew Hungry: Food Truck Rally 2011 Ottawa Street
Here at I Heart Hamilton Tour, we’re self-proclaimed foodies. Hamilton is getting to be known for its upsurge of food trucks, and an event dedicated to bringing them all together, plus even more trucks from out of town, seemed like an ideal tour stop. We first heard of Sew Hungry: Food Truck Rally 2011 back in July during our day dedicated to Ottawa Street when we got to meet the Ottawa Street BIA executive director, Patty Despinic. It is amazing how fast time flies, and that the event was here already. The best way to tackle this one would have been to have all four of us there and split up, trying as many food trucks as possible. Since it was just myself, all of the food samplings seemed a bit daunting, but I arrived with an appetite. I wasn’t alone, bringing along an Honourary Tour Member, my dad!
The event ran from 11am – 2pm and had an amazing turn out; the street was crowded with people and the line-ups for the trucks extended far along the sidewalks. First, we walked the length of Ottawa to scope out all of the vendors. One of the most popular spots of the day was Hamilton’s own Gorilla Cheese, which I unfortunately still have yet to try. The line was crazy-long, so we skipped it, but it must be noted that it is Canada’s first mobile food truck dedicated to the grilled cheese. And who doesn’t love a good grilled cheese? It has gained quite the following and I’ve heard enthusiastically positive feedback about it, so we’ll have to keep tabs on their schedule and catch them en route soon.
One place I knew I had stop at was Madison’s lemonade stand. I had heard of Madison’s story in recent news – the 10-year-old’s cooler was stolen this summer where she set up her lemonade stand outside her house. I was, of course, saddened by the story and couldn’t believe anybody would do such a thing. Shortly after, Kitestring Creative Branding Studio (which I had so much fun visiting recently for a tour stop) decided to step in, presenting Madison with a brand new lemonade stand at their studio, along with a donation supplied by The Cossart Exchange, giving Madison free entrepreneurship classes*. The young entrepreneur was then asked to join the Sew Hungry event, which was perfect. I spotted Madison and her bright yellow stand and stopped to say hello and try her famous lemonade. She offered pink lemonade as well as the traditional yellow. I opted for the traditional lemonade, and it was very refreshing! It’s fantastic to see someone with so much initiative, and at such a young age, and I’m happy to have her included as one of our tour stops.
After some lemonade, it was time to get some food. I also made it a point to visit Cake & Loaf Bakery’s tent; I have wanted to visit their newly opened bakery on Dundurn. I have heard a lot of great things about them and, of course, I love me some baked goods. They had the cutest customized cookies for the event, shaped like buttons with “Sew Hungry” printed in icing. Cake creator and pastry chef Nickey was running their booth, so I got a chance to meet and chat with her. With quite the selection of goodies, I took her recommendation and tried their Ginger Crinkles cookie, which she said is very popular with customers. It could see why – it was delicious! I look forward to visiting them again soon – stay tuned for my upcoming entry on the bakery.
Right next to Cake & Loaf was Hero Mobile Café. What better way to compliment baked goods than with some coffee? Owner Rob House is another connection I made through Hamilton’s ever-growing Twitter community, so it was great to meet him and chat about our shared love of the City. We both agreed on how Hamilton has always been an amazing city with so much to offer, and an event like this is no exception. Hero Mobile Café is strictly a mobile operation that also caters events and serves from the Ottawa Street Market. My dad sampled the cappuccino – thumbs up from him!
It was time for our main course of the day – Smoke’s Poutinerie. The chain is located all over the country, including Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, and Winnipeg. They just set up shop here in Hamilton, on George Street. Business has already been booming in the Hess Village location – ideal for an appealing late-night snack after the bar. They had a small selection of poutine available at their food truck, from classic poutine to with a variety of meats, such as bacon or beef. My dad and I both opted for the Traditional Poutine and were pleased with our choice. I grabbed a menu to peruse; clearly I’m not a poutine connoisseur yet, as I was unaware of the various ways to make poutine! Check out their location on George Street for a staggering variety of the classic Canadian dish.
We continued along the street and decided to check out the Ottawa Street Farmers’ Market. The girls and I want to visit more farmers’ markets in Hamilton, specifically the next time we get together to cook. The market was small, but had quite a bit of produce. It’s still peach season, so they were out in full bloom, as well as tomatoes, berries, and all kinds of veggies. The market is open Fridays and Saturdays – if you’re in the area on those days, definitely make a stop.
My last goal for the day was to stop by Cupcake Diner to say hello to its owner, Natalie. It was a fantastic day for Canada’s first mobile cupcake shop, having sold out within 2 hours of the event. The diner also sells cute t-shirts, which read, “Show me your Cupcakes!” or “Saaaweet!” In addition, Cupcake Diner now has a stall at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market on York Boulevard, and the grand opening was the following day. They are definitely another favourite of the city.
Honourable mentions go out to the other vendors we spotted: Shriner’s Kettle Creek Popcorn, Sweetness Bakery, Kool Jim’s Ice Cream Truck, El Gastronomo Vagabundo, Topline Pizza, Mike’s Submarines, Bonfire Catering, Dora’s Deli and Catering, Caplansky’s Deli, and cafés/restaurants on Ottawa who had tents outside their establishments: Cannon Coffee Company, Café Limoncello, Buckeyes Smokehouse, and Sestres Coffee Shop.
While I could have eaten more (the other girls can attest to this – I can eat!) I enjoyed everything I sampled, and it was a really fun and unique event, gladly bringing our Tour to Ottawa Street once more.
* Stacey Escott, The Hamilton Spectator